Disinfo: EU and NATO do nothing but blame Russia for propaganda

Summary

NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg stated that Russia, China, and other sources are spreading disinformation to destabilise NATO and the current world order. He claimed that Moscow’s aid to Italy has become a propaganda campaign. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov debunked this statement by pointing out that there is not a single example of disinformation from the Kremlin. While Moscow is helping Italy in difficult times, the EU and NATO do nothing but blame Russia for a “propaganda” attack against the West

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the failure of the West to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and the dismissal of Russian disinformation as an expression of Western "Russophobia". The spread of disinformation from Russian state media and other pro-Kremlin sources during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond is a well-documented phenomenon with plenty of examples as identified by independent fact-checking organiations, including the DFR Lab, Polygraph, and Stop Fake. EUvsDisinfo has also highlighted multiple such examples. In relation to Russia’s aid to Italy, journalists have collaborated with fact-checkers in order to debunk pro-Kremlin disinformation messages. For instance, the Guardian notes that “the fanfare around the deliveries may outweigh their actual use” and Politico warns that the aid delivery was accompanied with “propaganda and […] disinformation on state and social media.” Additionally, political observers have expressed doubt if Moscow and Beijing’s intentions when sending international aid are purely altruistic. The EU HR/VP also raised the same concerns by referring to "a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’." The claim that the EU and NATO remain inactive in their support for Member States during the pandemic is also false. Aside from bilateral assistance which forms a critical component of the international response to COVID-19, NATO provides allies with relief and operational support through a number of schemes including the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. The European Union, on the other hand, has launched multiple programs to support member states and partners in their national responses to the coronavirus and economic recovery amounting to over 3 trillion EUR.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 198
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/05/2020
  • Language/target audience: Bulgarian
  • Country: EU
  • Keywords: coronavirus, fake news, Propaganda, NATO, Russophobia
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US might be developing weaponised insects; Pentagon's biolabs must be investigated

Leaving your opponent without a harvest, which could lead to famine, is a much slower approach to reaching one’s aim. But it is a practical one, as the land could still be used for growing crops in the future. Such a bioweapon (an insect that introduces genetically modified material) could be deployed by an aggressor without the need for special equipment, thus leaving no trace of an attack. No means of spreading any chemicals or toxins would be found either as these could serve as indirect proof of a deliberate (far from natural) attack on plants. Filling a field with weaponized insects is all one needs. Concerns are growing about the fact that the United States has been providing a great deal of funding for biological programs that may have dual uses, such as conducting controversial experiments with infectious agents that cause deadly diseases; testing mechanisms of dispersal; increasing the scope of military research in biolabs abroad, and others. And as there are more and more questions about the nature of research done in numerous secret biolabs of the Pentagon, an unbiased international investigation ought to be conducted into their work.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory connected to recurring disinformation claims about the US allegedly developing bioweapons at secret facilities. See related examples of disinformation about the Lugar lab in Georgia. These messages are a longstanding element of pro-Kremlin disinformation - and especially in the current context of the coronavirus pandemic, pro-Kremlin media have been actively spreading disinformation claims about the US - or the West more broadly - manufacturing biological weapons; see here for an overview. Also see related disinformation cases alleging that US laboratories in Ukraine are deadly; that COVID-19 brings attention to secret US laboratories on the borders of US and China; that US is afraid of leakage of infectious substances on its territory so it builds secret laboratories in colonized countries.

Poland uses Russophobia to raise its status in the Western community

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an updated national security strategy for the country, which focuses on the military threat that allegedly comes from Russia. Polish authorities purposefully intimidate citizens with the “Russian threat”, fixing in official documents unconfirmed information about alleged “hybrid wars” and “cyber attacks” conducted by Russian intelligence agencies, and about “aggressive plans” of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Russophobia serves as a way for the ruling elite to rally the nation in the face of an imaginary enemy. Also, with the help of anti-Russian policy, Warsaw is trying to raise its status in the Western community.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative equating criticism of the Kremlin's actions or policies with "Russophobia", i.e., an irrational and unjustified hatred of Russia itself. The Polish authorities do not promote any policy of “intimidation with Russia” and they do not fuel the “anti-Russian propaganda”. Poland's primary Russia-related concerns are a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its ongoing involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Polish government shows its full support to Ukraine in the war and supports complete restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity. The full text of Poland's 2020 national security strategy is available here. On Polish security concerns regarding Russia, the document states:

The most serious threat is the neo-imperial policy of the authorities of the Russian Federation, pursued also by means of military force. The aggression against Georgia, the illegal annexation of Crimea and activities in eastern Ukraine have violated the basic principles of international law and undermined the pillars of the European security system. [...] Furthermore, the Russian Federation carries out activities below the threshold of war (of hybrid nature), which pose the risk of the outbreak of a conflict (including an unintentional one, originating from a violent escalation as a result of an incident, especially a military one), and undertakes multi-faceted and comprehensive actions using non-military means (including: cyber-attacks, disinformation) to destabilise the structures of Western states and societies and to create divisions among Allies. It should be assumed that that the Russian Federation will continue its policy of undermining the current international order, based on international law, in order to rebuild its power and spheres of influence.

Read similar cases on alleged Polish "Russophobia", such as "due to Polish Russophobia, there will be no public commemoration of the anniversary of Szczecin capture" and "Polish authorities created an insane hysteria of intimidation with Russia, used for the needs of domestic politics".

Errors and lack of evidence in the investigation of the MH17 case

The investigation of the MH17 case can hardly be called objective because, from the very beginning, the Dutch experts made a large number of mistakes. Therefore you cannot trust the results of their activities. The investigation did not offer anything new, but rather, it came across as “outright fakes”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about MH17, involving an attempt to discredit the Joint International Investigation (JIT) and the criminal trial that is underway in the Hague. The article doesn't provide any evidence of the alleged fakes or "mistakes" of the JIT investigation. The special team known as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was established to conduct the criminal inquiry into the downing of flight MH17. The JIT comprises officials from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch police, along with police and criminal justice authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. After years of painstaking investigation, the JIT has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a BUK-TELAR missile of the 9M38 series, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy (or: Pervomaiskyi). At that time, the area was controlled by Russian armed formations. The BUK-TELAR missile was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after being used to shoot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation. The JIT concluded that the BUK-TELAR used to down MH17 originates from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation. On the basis of the JIT investigation, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service is prosecuting three Russians and one Ukrainian for shooting down MH17 and murdering all 298 persons on board: Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov, and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko. The first session of the court proceedings started on the 9th of March in the Hague. The European Union and NATO have called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability. On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the BUK installation that was used to down MH17. The two governments are formally holding Russia accountable. Read similar cases such as: "The trial in The Hague on flight MH17 is based on Ukraine's fakes" and "The JIT builds all its conclusions on doubtful data".